A discussion that has come up a lot is the difference between coaching and mentoring. People are asking, “What is the difference between a coach and a mentor?” The skills required are often similar, but there is, in my mind, a difference between the two. I believe there a certain situation that needs a mentor and others that require a coach. I believe that a person can be a mentor and a coach, but I do not believe they can be both to the same person. When I think about education and leaders’ development, I believe they need both in their corner.
I believe a coach is focused more on performance, and the sole job is to help improve the coachee’s job performance. When education leaders have a coach, this is a person who will critique the educator and provide direct feedback to ensure the educator is performing to level required. The coach is not your friend, nor is the coach designed to be your friend. The coach should take the personal aspect out of coaching. The coach is the one who gives it to you straight.
A mentor is focused more on development. The mentor is not looking at the performance on a job. The mentor is focused on everything else. The mentor is focused on the educator’s well-being as a person and takes a more holistic approach. The mentor is someone who is not connected to the mentee’s job. The mentor is a friend. A mentor is a person who will still give it to the mentee straight, but their job ensures they are supporting the overall career development.
On the podcast I am part, The AOS Podcast, we hosted an episode about support systems for education leaders. During the episode, we discussed the topic of coaching vs. mentoring. My co-host dropped a gem when he talked about the importance of sponsorship.
Dr. Smith stated that as education leaders, we need to have a sponsor. A sponsor would be a person who would be the person who helps you get into rooms where you previously had not been. Education leaders of color need to find a sponsor. If you want to advance in this education game, you must have someone who can help you get into the usually closed rooms. It is also important that when you get in those rooms, you sponsor the next person to have the same access you were just given.
If you are in education, I encourage you to find yourself a coach, mentor, and sponsor. For us to do this work, we cannot do this work alone.
To hear The AOS Podcast Episode about Coaching vs Mentoring click the link here and enjoy the episode. The AOS Podcast Coaching vs Mentoring
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